What Do We Mean By “Elite” and “Premium” Type Grass Seed?
Like a lot of people involved in the grass and turf industry, the winter season has always provided a bit of an off season for me. For much of the country snow blankets the pastures, lawns, and golf courses; erasing all signs of the grass we’ve worked hard all summer maintaining. Many of us, including myself, take up skiing, snowboarding, or some other winter sport as a way to enjoy the down time in these cold winter months. For those who can relate, maybe you’ve noticed how there’s sometimes that one guy who can be found hanging around the ski lodge letting everyone know how he’s been riding double-diamond runs all day, or how he just landed some amazing trick, or even bragging about how expensive his new snowboard is. But the truth is soon manifest when you realize he actually spends more time sipping on lattés in the lodge than he does out on the mountain. When someone calls him out on his false claims, he quickly makes an excuse and slinks away to another corner of the lodge, in search of new victims he can inflate his ego with. There are many other examples I’m sure we can all think of where people talk themselves up but fail to deliver on their claims.
Our "Elite" and "Premium" Type Seeds
Here at Nature’s Seed, we throw around some pretty big claims too. For example, if you’ve had the chance to check out some of our products such as our ‘Blue Ribbon’ Kentucky Bluegrass Seed Blend, you might have noticed how we refer to our seed as being “elite” or “premium” type. These words typically describe something of the highest quality, or above all the rest. We don’t just use these words because they sound good or convey the idea of quality. I personally wouldn’t feel right about describing any product in these terms if I wasn’t fully convinced it was the truth. So why do we feel so comfortable making these claims?
It comes down to our selection of cultivars. A cultivar is a plant that has been intentionally developed by humans to have certain characteristics, such as a unique color or growth habit. Cultivars are not found naturally growing in nature. They have been bred over and over to bring out these unique characteristics. For kentucky bluegrass alone, there are over 200 cultivars currently available all with differing attributes relating to color, density, growth habit, fertilizer requirements, winter dormancy, spring green-up, establishment rate, traffic resistance, and drought tolerance. Some cultivars are better in certain qualities than other cultivars, while new cultivars are constantly being developed that improve and further highlight a potential strength.
Each year our experts research all the new cultivars and select the ones ranked by industry experts, like the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP.org), to be superior to other cultivars commonly found in home improvement big-box store seed blends. NTEP rates grass cultivars on their quality in all aspects, and the cultivars we select are the ones that constantly placed at the top of that quality rating.
The Dirty Secret About Big-Box Store Seed Brands
Speaking of big-box store blends, I want to let you in on a dirty little secret about box-store brands. Not to name names, but some of those big name-brand seed companies actually prefer cultivars of low quality in their blends. Why would they purposely choose low quality cultivars you might ask? Because it ensures the consumer has to buy their fertilizer to green up their low-quality lawn grass! To them it’s all about how to get more money out of cheaper materials, completely ignoring the concept of responsible, sustainable lawn grass management. Sadly, this seems to be the trend among many big- box store products and brands.
On the other hand, the cultivars we use in our seed blends are of the highest quality in all key areas, eliminating the need for constant fertilizing and over-use of pesticides. You’re not going to find seed blends of a higher quality anywhere else. That's why we use words such as “elite” and “premium”. We not only talk the talk, but we can back up our claims too.
Avoid Monoculture Through Diversity
Not only do we select high quality cultivars, but we include several different cultivars within each blend, even for the same species. For example, our Velvet Blue Blend contains 100% elite-type Kentucky bluegrass seeds, but that seed is composed of four different cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass. The idea behind this is to eliminate monocultures where only one single cultivar is planted. The advantage of using four different cultivars versus just one is that the more diversity a blend offers, the greater the resistance to disease and insect attack. In other words if a disease or pest attacks one of the cultivars, the others will resist. Had the lawn been a monoculture of just one cultivar, it would run the risk of becoming totally infested.
You may not always be able to tell when someone is bluffing, exaggerating, or misleading. Whether it’s in politics, at a sporting event, in the lodge of a ski resort, or even on the shelves of your local big-box home improvement store, sooner or later their true colors will show through. Our colors just happen to be a more brilliant dark green.